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Among the Sandyscams: Watch out for wet used cars

Post by C.R. Roberts / The News Tribune on Nov. 9, 2012 at 11:19 am with No Comments »
November 9, 2012 11:19 am

Just as Hurricane Katrina made its way to the South Sound, so the Jersey Shore might soon make an appearance, but not in a good way.

The Northwest Insurance Council is urging buyers to take precautions when buying a used vehicle in the coming months. “Although the East Coast is far from the Pacific Northwest, flood-damaged vehicles from Hurricane Sandy that should go to the junkyard will likely end up on local car lots to be sold by unaware car dealers to unsuspecting buyers,” The agency said in a release this week.

“If you buy a used vehicle and later discover that it was damaged from being submerged in flood waters, your auto insurance will not cover the cost of needed repairs.”

Said Frank Scafidi, director of public affairs at the National Insurance Crime Bureau, “Unscrupulous people buy the vehicles, clean them up to hide the flood damage then ship them to states unaffected by flooding to be sold as normal used cars.”

“You have to invest some time to find a reliable used car,” said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. “Checking VIN numbers is a great start, but, whenever there is wide-spread flooding, you have to take extra precautions to avoid getting stuck with a car that falls apart around you.”

To identify a flood car, the council advises:

• Choose a reputable car dealer
• Look for mildew, debris and silt in places where it wouldn’t normally be found, such as under the carpeting in the trunk, or around the engine compartment.
• Check for rust on screws and other metal parts.
• Look for water stains or faded upholstery as well as discoloration of seat belts and door panels.
• Inspect the vehicle for dampness in the floor and carpeting and moisture on the inside of the instrument panel.
• Check for a moldy odor or an intense smell of Lysol or deodorizer being used to cover up an odor problem.

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